Summer Soundtrack: The Boss is back on Broadway and Montclair State – News Center
The boss is back. Back to Broadway. Back to the Internet explosion. And back on the summer playlist at Montclair State, where the music, art and life of the superstar is explored in a class taught by Prudence Jones, professor of classical and human letters – and mega fan.
Jones contributed to academic research on the 71-year-old New Jersey rocker, applying his academic expertise of “older stuff” to interpreting American pop culture and how Bruce Springsteen’s work reflects the American experience at the end of the decade. 20th and early 21st century. .
“My specialization and experience is Latin poetry, especially the Augustinian poets,” Jones explains. “There’s a lot of love poetry, so analyzing the lyrics, analyzing the poetry, it’s not that big a leap for me.”
All of this makes Jones uniquely qualified to step in with a scholarly take on this summer’s debate over Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” lyrics. In the weeks since the boss ushered in the return to live theater with Springsteen on Broadway, Fans took to Twitter by storm, discussing the words “swings” against “waves” from the opening line, “A screen door slams, Mary’s dress swings” … or some ears … “The dress of Mary waves ”.
Thanks to The New Yorker, on July 17, fans got their answer on what Mary’s dress does (it’s “sways,” according to Springsteen manager and producer Jon Landau). “That’s how he wrote it in his original notebooks, that’s how he sang it on Born to run, in 1975, that’s how he always sang it in thousands of shows, and that’s how he sings it on Broadway right now. Any typos in Bruce’s official material will be corrected. And, by the way, “dresses” don’t know how to “wave”, ”Landau says in the article.
But a close reading of Jones provides a deeper analysis.
“My opinion is that Bruce played it both ways and so there is no 100% accurate answer,” Jones says. “Being a text person, my approach is to go to text. The lining notes for Born to run have “waves”. There are other cases, however, where the cover notes contain errors in the Springsteen versions, so we cannot completely trust the printed lyrics. It could be argued that if “vague” had been a proofreading error, the lyrics would have been corrected on his. The biggest hits. The biggest hits has “waves”. Lest we think this is full confirmation, the cover notes for Live 1975-85 have “powers”. But the version on Live is a different interpretation of the song on Born to run and The biggest hits have the recording in the studio, while Live has a performance of 10/18/75 at Roxy.
Jones is clearly an avid fan. But it wasn’t until after graduating from Harvard that she bought her debut album. She was writing her thesis on rivers as a symbol of Roman literature, when while browsing a record store, she came across an album titled River. With the link between the title and the themes of his article, “it seemed like it all came together. I was a little obsessed with this for a while.
A few years ago, she published an article in Boss: Springsteen’s Semi-Annual Online Studies Journal which examines Springsteen’s relationship with American folk tradition and how he creates a dialogue with that tradition in order to offer his own distinct perspective.
“In the folk tradition, songs evolve and change over time,” Jones says. Applying this to “Thunder Road, ”then,“ You might wonder what the original design was? Are the “waves” prior to the “oscillations”; or vice versa? A first handwritten lyrics sheet for ‘Thunder Road’ (written while Bruce was still trying out names for the girl – among them Anne, Chrissie, Christine and Angelina), has ‘influences’.
Folklore tradition is among the themes that Montclair State students explore during the popular summer course, Selected Themes: Bruce Springsteen. It’s as introspective as Springsteen is on stage with his Broadway musical and recent autobiography.
“I ask our students to do a lot of things,” Jones says. “I give them articles to read and a lot of listening. Most of them are already in Springsteen or their parents are really in Springsteen. There is something in their life that made them want to understand this better.
A class sample includes Springsteen’s social and political works. “We are talking about themes that appear in Springsteen’s lyrics that are also essential in his environment, including the working class as a broad subject and deindustrialization and what was going on in the 1970s. I juxtapose Vietnam and the September 11th as major events to which Springsteen responded in an important way with Born in the United States and his work with Vietnam veterans, then the Rising tour after September 11. We talk about Bruce’s reflection on his own fame, how he portrays fathers and sons, Catholic imagery, and how his faith shows up in his music.
And they speak of his words. Which brings Jones back to his analysis of “Thunder Road” and the chorus of the “sway” and “waves” debate.
“So there is textual authority for both. The “final project” in the Born to run the printed lyrics have “waves”. It’s also called “Mary” and we know Bruce had tried other names there, so we can say that “sways” was in a first draft and was later changed to “waves”. Unlike the name, however, in later performances of the song, “sways” makes a reappearance although the name never changes once he chooses “Mary”. For this reason, I think the answer is really that it’s both and which one we get depends on how Bruce recreates the song in each performance.
The summer course ends on August 5th. (Maybe Springsteen will join him in weighing in.)
Story of the editor Marilyn Joyce Lehren